October 14, 2019

Education – Knowledge – Wisdom – Power – Change

Technology - the amount of change that I have personally witnessed over the years is fascinating. Somehow the name Commodore 64 has a tiny spot reserved in the corner of my mind – this is the computer my brother and I used when we’d spend hours playing, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego in our Cabrini Green apartment.  When I do an internet search for computers of the 80’s, the images that are rendered give me a nostalgic feeling as it seems that I’d forgotten all about chunky keyboards and even more chunky monitors. There were screens that seemed to be as thick and as hard as cement that somehow produced boxy letters that were always waiting for the next input and images that would seem laughable today and yet… we were fascinated. I’d almost forgotten about those two different sizes of floppy disks and floppy disk drives and those huge joysticks. There was no connection to the world from our computer. Back then, it served as mere entertainment for me. For today’s kid, the computer – be it a desktop, laptop, tablet or cellphone – is a gateway to the world and all of the free information available within. Today, because of this technology, we have at our fingertips, an endless supply of information from countless sources. This could be a good thing – a great thing even. Or not.

As a child, doing research for school assignments meant checking out the latest information available in the encyclopedias at the library. Card catalogues and the dewey decimal system are fixated in my mind next to that Commodore 64 computer and the floppy disks we would write our names on for school. I remember my auntie working in downtown Chicago at the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, who after over 240 years, was forced out of business by the internet.  I was 19 years old when I first got ahold of the internet via AOL dial up through our telephone line. I was fascinated then and the experience in no way even compared to what is available to us today. When I consider today’s youth – Generation Z – I must recognize that their experience with technology is far different from my own.

Having access to information has and will always be important. My generation accomplished this by visiting our local libraries and doing manual research. Today’s students are not in any way, shape, form or fashion lacking in access to information. ANYTHING that they may want to know, they can access in seconds. So, then, what is the purpose of education? Of course, education provides a targeted course of information that individuals should know by certain points in their lives. Of course, education is necessary for individuals to learn to perform specific work skills/tasks. However, sometimes it seems as though "education" is a mere formality established many, many years ago without much further reconsideration for the very real technological changes that are occurring in society.

Today, it is not enough to simply KNOW. It actually never was, but today, it is even more important to go beyond the knowing. Because of the constant stream of unfiltered, random, information available, we must be equipped with the wisdom to decipher and discern information. Without this ability, we are nothing but human robots, reciting and regurgitating information that has been fed to us without any regard for its value or validity. Without the ability to decipher and discern information, we are mere vessels being used to advance the agendas of others – those who are evolved enough to go beyond knowing. KNOWING what to do with information is essential.